How can there be a danger in the pursuit of health? Sometimes I wonder if it has become a bit like: “Here’s what you’ve been waiting for! Do X, Y and Z and you will be healthy!” A magical formula that gives quick results.

The pursuit of health is a great and meaningful aspiration, but…

A woman is walking towards a hill and there are signs which say "Your health transformed in only 3 weeks! Don't delay! This way!" The woman is saying, "So glad I found this plan! It will give me what I need!" The point is there can be a danger when we view the pursuit of health resulting in an end destination and a magic plan will get us there.

We can end up pursuing health as if it’s a destination and with expectations of getting to that destination quickly. If it doesn’t happen quickly enough for our liking, we can quickly give up.

Also, what can happen when we arrive at our destination of health? Celebrate, of course. We did what we had to do to get here. We’ve made it! Hurrah!

But what happens next? For example, weight loss is a common goal in the pursuit of health. After the holiday or special event you lost the weight for, do you maintain the changes you made?

It’s not uncommon to see that once people lose the weight, they return to their previous habits. And eventually regain the weight. How many of you have found yourself in that cycle? Or a similar cycle regarding another change?

Two women are sitting on top of The Mountain of Health. They have recently finished climbing it. One woman is saying, "We made it! We're healthy!" The other is saying, "Let's go the pub and celebrate!" The caption reads: What happens after you arrive at your destination of health? The point is we can end up viewing the pursuit of health as an end destination. Once we get there, we can end up going back to our old ways, i.e. lots of drinking in the pub, or not eating very healthily for example.

So I think we need to approach the pursuit of health in a different way

I want to share four things you can reflect on to help you ensure your pursuit of health and wellness is a healthy one.

First, define what health and being healthy mean for you

This is especially important when you or a loved one are living with a challenging health issue. It’s not uncommon to define health and being healthy as how you were and felt pre-illness or injury.

My recommendation is to be very careful in doing that. This can be a double-edged sword.

Sometimes trying to get back to your ‘previous self’ can be a source of positive motivation to look after yourself in healthy ways which helps your rehabilitation.

What you don’t want to do is work to your pre-illness/injury expectations and personal standards to the point you experience a terrible quality of life. That can happen and can be a hard place to be. You can end up continually focusing on what you’ve lost rather than what you can be doing now. Read this blog if you are doing that.

How do you define #health and being healthy? Particularly if you’re living with the impact of a #seriousillness #chronicillness or #seriousinjury Click To Tweet

Ask yourself: What kind of health can I have within the reality of my illness or injury?

This isn’t about having a lower level of health than you had before or being less healthy. That form of comparison can be emotionally draining.

It is about what being healthy and not healthy is like for you now, as you are.

When you are living with the impact of a challenging health issue, you have good days, so-so days and some downright awful days. Therefore, your health and experience of being healthy fluctuates.

Answering this question in conjunction with your medical and healthcare team can also help you determine what is realistic and appropriate for you given the health issue you are dealing with. Or the health issue a loved one may be dealing with.

Second, health ensues due to the action we take. We create the conditions for experiencing health (or not)

It’s the same as with happiness. We create the conditions for our happiness. And those conditions are many. What contributes to your experience of health and feeling healthy is also multi-faceted. It is so much more than just our physical and mental health.

Note: There are some things which can have a negative impact on our mental and/or physical health which we cannot fully control. For example state systems regarding benefits, a relapse, or what other people say to us. What we can control is our response to these situations and people.

Third, ensure the actions you’re taking in your pursuit of health and wellness are healthy actions

Are the actions you’re taking in your pursuit of #health and #wellness healthy actions? Read more here. Click To Tweet

The actions we take to pursue health may not always be healthy for us. For example, the diet products that have no evidence base, or yo-yo dieting as mentioned above, or forgoing meals in an effort to lose weight, or doing too much exercise so we end up hurting ourselves, or completing disregarding the advice of your medical or healthcare team without giving it due consideration, or expecting results very quickly which could be unrealistic.

You can always double check your actions with experts and I recommend this if your action involves your medical routine, change in medications, your diet/nutrition and your psychological health.

And remember, your actions can be small. I often say that a range of small actions in various parts of our life can be a tidal wave of change for the good.

A woman is riding a tidal wave and within the wave are these small actions such as set my intention for the day, take a walk at lunch time, eat dinner earlier, and knit whilst watching tv. The woman is saying, "All these small actions are at tidal wave of change!" A fish is near the wave saying, "This is wave I want to ride!" The point is the actions we take in our pursuit of health need to be healthy actions. It's ok if they are small. Lots of small actions can be a tidal wave of change.

Fourth, the pursuit of health and wellness is an ongoing process

There is no end destination. Health and wellness are resources readily available to us. It’s up to us to create the conditions, to take actions which are within our control and influence, for them to flourish for our benefit. Whilst keeping in mind our health and wellness will fluctuate over time.

An original quote by Return to Wellness: The pursuit of health and wellness is an ongoing process, not an end destination.

What’s it like for you?

How do you think about the pursuit of health and wellness? How has your definition of health and being healthy changed over the years? What’s it like now? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

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